After reading the E-Myth Revisited I've become a lot more attuned to the minor details of customer service, the subtle cues that define the experience of visiting a store. E-Myth says to script and specify these things rather than leave them up to chance, and I'm beginning to see why.
Annie and I went to the Sony Store, where I bought a Vaio P laptop. I need a new laptop, and it's one of the ones I'm considering, so I figured I'd buy it and return it if I didn't like it.
The sales rep who approached me was a genuinely cheerful and earnest girl with an Argentinean accent. She came up to us we were checking out the ebook readers (which I love, by the way), she helpfully demonstrated the features and answered questions well.
So far so good.
Then, abruptly, as I was trying out some of the functions, she asked, "Are you going to buy it?"
Too eager. She was concerned about her commission, not me.
We moved on to the laptop and I said I'd take it. She said she'd go to the back and get it for me and ended by saying, "You'll wait here, right?"
Again, too eager.
To make things worse, I was handed off to another salesman with no explanation, who seemed to generally resent me for buying a laptop.
After the Sony store we went to a tea shop. Both of us noticed how the tea bags were thrown into the teacup, rather than carefully placed there. The cups filled halfway with water and then we were asked if we wanted more. It's water! It's free! Just fill it up. They sold high end green tea, but steeped it in boiling water instead of the 80 degrees celcius it's meant to be steeped in.
Last night we went to a vegan restaurant called Bonny's. Starving, we were dying for food and everything on the menu looked good. I was eager to love the restaurant. I ordered the lentil burger, which came with "our own white and blue corn tortilla chips" covered in an "avalanche of salsa and avocado". The food was good, especially the salad, but the chips were clearly just store bought chips, some of which were artificially dyed red, and the "avalanche" only included a few tiny slivers of avocado. We were well fed, but couldn't help feeling like the menu was a bit dishonest.
Are these big deals?
To me, no. I still bought the laptop, the tea was excellent, and dinner was good enough. These aren't examples of colossal failure or poor customer service as much as they are examples of opportunities for the company to make me love them.
What if the tea shop filled my glass fully with the right temperature water, and the barista put the tea bag into the tea cup as if she cared? What if the POLICY of the company was for her to then come bring more hot water, without me asking, so that I could resteep my tea? I'd probably be raving about it, and would have stopped there when we passed by the next day.
What if Bonnie's chips really were home made, as the menu implied, and I really was given an avalanche of avocado, one of my favorite foods? I'd be eating there tonight instead of at Aux Vivres, a restaurant whose dishes are even better than they sound on the menu.
The moral of the story? Little things matter, especially if you subscribe to the idea that what you're really selling is an experience, not a product. You can get to "great" without worrying about the details, but probably not to excellent.
FFS Champ leave it alone...talk about nitpicking. Nice blog(s) Tynan, the vast majority of readers no doubt understood the message you were trying to get across was about making customers love your business and not the fine art of the Japanese tea ceremony :)
@Champ: As I've said before... these things aren't making the difference between "bad" and "good", they're the difference between "good" and "excellent". When someone carefully puts the tea bag in, instead of tossing it, it's a signal.
A few days after that experience we went to an amazing tea shop in Montreal. The woman showed us the ideal way to make our tea, handled the whole tea set almost reverently, and very obviously cared about the tea. As a result I'm raving about the place to anyone who will listen.
As for the Sony girl, are you seriously telling me you've never had a salesperson who annoyed you because they cared more about their commission than how good the product was for you?
I'm just not that type of person. I don't go hunting around for the ultimate hip vegan restaurant with the best chips. Food is something to do in the background while I talk to someone. I don't demand an experience when I go out to eat. I don't even really demand good service. I'd like my drink refilled now and again, but if not, no big deal. Hell, my last experience with the Sony store involved me paying an extra $25, and then having to drive an hour just to get my money back, and I was pretty chill about that too, it sounded like an honest mistake.
Regarding business/pointing out opportunities/sharing what you have learned: As I said, the post has a good point. I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with that. And I'm assuming you have a business/are planning a business of your own here, but I would much rather see this post as "here is why my business excels/will excel" with maybe a paragraph's worth of negative examples like these. You say it's not a complaining post but I hardly see much else.
And about judging someone by their blog... I think you can learn a lot about a person by what they choose to write about, and how they write it. Maybe it's not as effective as actually meeting you, But I think your blog contains a pretty deep, all around depiction of you. And whether this gives you something to judge or not, I don't think I'll ever be the type of person who blogs about his not-quite-excellent experience at the tea shop.
Thanks for reading. This is what happens when I can't sleep and there's some good old internet debating to be done.
I think we have very different outlooks, and that is going to leave this argument partially unsettled.
You were right in assuming I'm a little out of my element here- I don't think I have ever even been to a vegan restaurant, and I'm not particularly inclined to change that. I don't even know what they offer (I guess avocado volcanoes). But in retrospect, any restaurant I've gotten chips at (entirely Mexican restaurants) I'm fairly sure has had home made or at least deceptively warmed chips. I'm not sure how I'd react to getting Tostitos as an appetizer.
As for tea, the last time I had hot tea was a very late night at Denny's, and they have a wide range of Lipton and more Lipton. The last green tea I got cold in a 20 oz. bottle, and I swore I pressed the "Pepsi" button on that vending machine. However, the complaint about how the teabag was placed is completely out there. I can't imagine caring or even noticing something like that. Did that really negatively impact your "experience"? Its things like this that give me such a problem with this post. I'm baffled by that one.
It's the Sony store that really bothers me. You had an admittedly friendly, helpful and knowledgeable salesperson. Your complaint is that... she wanted to sell you something. She's a salesperson. But the incredible thing is next. You were inexplicably passed to an unfriendly salesman right in the middle. Tynan! That's something to complain about! That's a legitimately unsatisfactory experience! But you pass it off as a postscript while you devote a paragraph pointing out the flaws of the kind of salesperson I would LOVE to experience regularly? Huh.
First of all, sorry about the length, I decided to really put everything out there for discussion. I chopped it up to make it more digestible, but it's still a ton to read.
Karol: Both yours and Tynan's comments are conflicting a little with the post itself. If you are right about green tea, and burning it has an effect on the flavor similar to, say, overcooking a steak, then I completely agree. Tynan, if your tea was bad, then I'm with you. However, that is not what I read in the post.
I am hardly an expert on the finer details of green tea. So everything I know about it I am drawing from the post. Tynan said nothing about flavor. All he said was "boiling water instead of the 80 degrees celcius it's meant to be" From this I assumed that it didn't affect the flavor, but instead the temperature was kind of a tea etiquette that this place didn't quite follow. In fact, Tynan even said later that "the tea was excellent" If it was not just good, but excellent anyway, the temperature hardly matters at all.
So Tynan, Karol; was it a careless use of words in the post, or are you exaggerating to make your rebuttal hold more weight?
Champ and G:
I think you're missing it.
There's a rule in business that says "under promise, over deliver." The other way around is simply no good.
So expecting what is promised is not being anal.
High end green tea should never be served with boiling water. It burns the tea and it doesn't taste good. You ever hear people say "I hate green tea?" It's because they use boiling water and scorch it.
I've never been to a tea shop that used boiling water for green (or white, for that matter) tea, but I'd complain about it too if they did.
Same with the Bonny's restaurant experience. If you're going to a vegetarian/vegan place that claims to be healthy, all-natural, etc...they better deliver.
Reminds me of the story of the bartender who was asked why he always got bigger tips, when his drinks were the same size as anyone elses. "Maybe because I fill three quarters, and then say 'lets put some more in', and fill it up?"
Forgot to respond to a couple other things:
I'll do the grey blob thing, but it's not at the top of my list right now. Thanks for the feedback!
For Dvorak I don't rearrange my keys. I just change the mappings and touch type.
I'm not complaining, I'm pointing out opportunities for companies to go from good to excellent, a distinction that matters.
@Champ: Home made chips don't matter in most places, but to people who eat healthy in healthy restaurants, it DOES matter. Not a life or death issue, but it's something we notice. High end tea shops should care about water temperature, because water temperature has a very noticeable difference on flavor.
Again, not a huge deal, but small details that would have made me LOVE these places.
I'm reading a lot about business these days, so these sorts of things stand out to me. I'm trying to share what I've learned through examples.
@G: I don't have everything figured out by any means, but I have a pretty good handle on what is important. I spend my time doing what I love, with family and friends, traveling and learning, and being as healthy as possible.
I'm not sure what Barry has to complain about with my song for Mystery, and don't really care either. I like/liked Barry, but from what I understand he spends his time spewing negativity towards people who used to be his friends. Maybe he needs to figure out what's important in life?
I don't exaggerate anything, and can't think of any claims I've made regarding pickup. I definitely didn't sleep with as many girls at Proho as many of the other guys, but I wasn't trying to. That's not to say that I didn't have a huge amount of failures (I did), but rather that quantity was never my goal.
As for being rigid, I think that's something that you can't really judge from a blog. Many girls I've dated have told me I'm too stubborn, though, so maybe you're on to something.
I agree with Champ.
It sounds like you haven't actually lived a real life tynan. And I don't mean because you haven't done enough "crazy shit". I mean because it really sounds like you still haven't figured out what's important in life and what isn't.
True, you're young, so there's time to fix it, but frankly, you ain't no spring-chicken buddy, so you better hurry, cause problems like the ones you have take decades to fix!
You are SO rigid in so many things...it's freaky. Real travellers become more easygoing as they experience more of the strange world we live in. You seem to become even more anal.
Now as for that honesty of yours...how about telling the truth about your whole PUA "successes". Barry Kirkey seems to think you may have over-exagerated some of those, especially in your song/ode to Mystery :)
So go the extra mile and give us some more of those essential details you seem to have skipped over... :)
See how easy it is to nit-pick?
My friend Elisia first showed me an ebook reader, the Kindle she bought as soon as they came out. The quality of the screen was jaw dropping - it wasn't anything like a computer screen, but instead actually looked like paper. As amazed as I was with the device, I had no intention of buying one. The form factor was clunky, it seemed like a superfluous device, and it couldn't natively display PDF files, which is the format I tend to read (and publish) in.
A couple months later I was wandering around in the Sony Store and I saw their ebook reader, the PRS-505. It had the same amazing screen that the kindle had, but was much smaller, less than a third of an inch thick. When I found out that it could also natively read PDF files I was tempted to buy it, but was still concerned that it was just a useless toy.
Six months later my friend Vince brought a Sony PRS-505 on the trip to Morocco that he joined me on. I found myself asking to borrow it constantly, just about any time he wasn't using it. If he fell asleep on the bus I'd carefully slide it away from his grip and read on it.
Im at a café and I just had to go through a 15-20 minute discussion with 2 staff members and then a manager to be able to be able to get a cucumber-tomato-avocado-sallad without any dead animals on it (which was not possible in the end anyways even though they had all ingredients). They couldnt just charge me for a Salmon sallad for example and just not put the Salmon on it. Nope, that sounded very difficult for some reason. I would have to get it made with the Salmon and then throw the Salmon away (which would still not be vegan, it would be killing for nothing which is as bad or worse than killing for eating). They had all these ingredients as separate side orders too, but to be allowed to order side orders I would have to buy something with animal products on it. Even 10 side orders would not be allowed to order without a animal main coarse. Believe it or not as a raw vegan you have to expect this insanity so I had a plan b which was asking them to put my bananas and water in their blender and blend it for me for a charge plus tip. Even though they do make smoothies with stuff I dont eat in it just putting my bananas and water there and charging me without having to give me anything was to advance for them as well. Finally after speaking to three people I got my bananas blended, but without water, that was to advanced. Sometimes it just feels that the World has gone completely mad. So many places dont even have one sallad without dead animals on it and when you just want the most simple thing like cucumber-tomato-avocado that is actually on the side-order-menu then people have no idea how to solve that "complicated situation". The reasons i didnt just walk away is that I need a place to sit and work with the laptop today when the electricity is not working at the childcare center where Im staying PLUS that I cant believe that it can be so hard. What on earth are people thinking? The scariest thing is that these people are most likely thinking that I am the "weird and crazy one" even though Im the one doing something good for the environment and for other living beings like the animals on the menu and even though their restaurant is the one discriminating against a certain groups of potential customers instead of just seeing the potential and putting just one vegan dish on their menu or at least being flexible and keep their dead animals when asked to. I was never angry or upset but I do feel that it is a completely brainwashed and upside down world I live in at times and that some people are completely unable to just stop for a second and consider what is reasonable or not. Another example of that was a company that found it reasonable to charge me 500 USD for something that took 30 seconds for a staff member that does not even make 500 USD per month. So in those 30 seconds the Company wants me as a customer to pay 500 and the worker to get a few cents or something and the rest is the company profit... That´s greed for you..